DGA board approves tentative contract with studios


A new three-year deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which was struck Tuesday (12/7), has now won unanimous approval from the National Board of the Directors Guild of America (DGA). The tentative pact will go to the DGA membership for a ratification vote.

The negotiations were completed with plenty of time to spare. The proposed contract would take effect July 1, 2011, the day after the current contract expires, and run through June 30, 2014.

“This substantial new agreement accomplishes our most important objectives and I’m grateful for the leadership and wisdom of Negotiations Chair Gil Cates and National Executive Director Jay Roth,” said DGA President Taylor Hackford. 

Under the proposed contract, employers will contribute an additional 1.5% of compensation to the Health Plan, for a total of 10%. This is a 17.6% increase in Employer contributions to the Health Plan, DGA noted, the largest increase in Employer contribution rates since the Plan was founded. Together with the 5.5% contributed to the Pension Plan, Employers will now be contributing 15.5% of total compensation to the Health and Pension Plans.

For the first time, Employers will make contributions to the Health Plan on Vacation Pay and Completion of Assignment Pay. This is a substantial new benefit that will also allow more DGA members to qualify for healthcare, the union said.

The cap on Health Plan contributions for Unit Production Managers employed on theatrical motion pictures will increase from $250,000 to $350,000.
The deal also increases wages and residuals bases. The standard rate increase for minimum salaries and residuals bases will be 2% in each year of the contract, DGA told its members.

Major changes for basic cable productions will be coming under the tentative agreement. The DGA says a new, higher compensation tier will be established “to more appropriately compensate DGA Directors working on high-budget basic cable dramatic programming.” Unit Production Managers, Assistant Directors, Associate Directors and Stage Managers: Mandatory Safety Training: As proposed by the DGA, the existing Directors Guild-Producer Training Plan Safety Passport Training Course will now become mandatory for UPMs, Assistant Directors, Associate Directors and Stage Managers eligible to work in Southern California.

New in the contract: Associate Directors on multi-camera prime time dramatic series will receive a proportionate share of residuals. “This marks the first time that Employees performing the job previously known as Technical Coordinators will receive a share of residuals,” the union stated.

 “I’m truly pleased with this new contract,” said Gil Cates, Chair of the DGA’s Negotiations Committee.  “We went in there knowing full well that increasing employer contributions to our Health Plan would be our top priority. By the time we finished, we not only achieved a significant increase in contributions on our regular compensation, we also achieved contributions on Completion of Assignment Pay and Vacation Pay for the first time ever. This is a tremendous new source of funding for the Health Plan and a wonderful, important gain for our members.”

AMPTP also hailed the agreement, saying it demonstrated the benefits of an early deal for the entire entertainment industry. “These early talks allowed us to bridge the gaps created by uncertain economic times and deliver increases in areas critical to DGA members,” the bargaining group for the studios said.